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Bloxham Gardening Club

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On 31st March members were able to forget the miserable English Spring weather here as they were transported to Paris in early summer to the Gardens at Bagatelle. Duncan Coombs, a lecturer at Pershore College, took us to this virtually secret garden in the centre of Paris comprising a small chateau in about 15 acres of land. It dates back to 1716, when a small house stood on the site. In 1775 the chateau was built and furnished (as a result of a wager with Marie Antoinette) in 60 days and the garden included 100 fountains. Fortunately for France, the Revolution apparently passed it by and it remained unspoilt. A friend of Claude Monet, J.C.N.Forestier, laid out the formal rose gardens which are internationally famous. They contain a mixture of old and more modern rose varieties. Much of the gardens give an impressionistic effect with the emphasis on vivid colour. There are massed beds of iris in early summer, a lily pool, a Japanese garden, a wonderful orangery and several acres of parkland in which to wander. In 1905 Paris City Council took over the gardens and provided a positive haven in the centre of modern-day Paris.
Moving north-west of Paris, we arrived at Giverny, the property purchased by Claude Monet in 1883. He was able to buy some adjacent land in 1890 and set about creating his famous garden. Reflecting many of the borders at Bagatelle, this garden is a blaze of colour with lots of iris in early summer, sunrise and sunset borders, roses and even formal beds of pelargoniums near the house. There is a Japanese influence here too and of course, the lily ponds he created and the delightful “Monet” bridge. We also went inside the house, still exactly as it was when the artist spent the latter years of his life there. This is a hugely popular garden but fortunately Duncan was allowed in before the public and was able to take many lovely photographs before the crowds descended.
Between the visits to the gardens, Duncan showed and talked about a number of more exotic plants which we are now able to grow here since the advent of global warming. Quite a sobering thought!
We have a plant sale on Sunday, 18th May at 3pm in the garden of 7 Courtington Lane. There are plants for sale, a raffle and refreshments and everyone is welcome. We plan several visits during the summer, including an evening trip to Tile House Plants near Finmere on 23rd June and to Fiveways Cottage in Shutford on 21st July. Again, everyone is welcome Enquiries to James Sheppy.

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